The Bay Area’s “second city” is in the midst of a revitalization that includes miles and miles of pedestrian paths, says Tyler Norris, cochair of Kaiser Permanente’s Every Body Walk campaign. “Oakland has become a place to walk to work, for fitness, for social purpose, or just for running errands,” he says. He specifcally notes the city’s volunteer-driven Walk Oakland Bike Oakland organization, whose goal is to promote both of those activities and advocate for walking- and biking-friendly city planning.
Best Walk: Lake Merritt
Known as the jewel of Oakland, Lake Merritt houses the oldest wildlife refuge in North America, along with a nature center, an arboretum, and a children’s fairy-tail-themed playground. To explore the lake’s scenic, 3.3-mile inner loop, begin at its northwest corner, near Grand Avenue and Harrison Street. Walk east on Grand Avenue, and turn right on Bellevue Avenue to follow the curve of the lake. Continue along Bellevue Avenue as it wraps back up to Grand Avenue, and turn right to continue along the outer loop. At the northeast corner of the lake, turn right onto El Embarcadero, then make a right onto Lakeshore Avenue. This road will take you to the bottom of the lake, where you can cut into a waterfront path past the Lake Merritt United Methodist Church and over a small footbridge. After you pass the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar and Grill, join up with Lakeside Drive and follow this road back up to your starting point. To access the map, click here.
Alternate Walk: Piedmont Avenue and Adams Point
A 3.5-mile walk through some lovely tree-lined streets in North Oakland offers plenty of hills for those who want an extra challenge, says Norris. Start at Piedmont and Pleasant Valley avenues, near the foot of Mountain View Cemetery (another great walk in and of itself, according to Norris). Walk southeast on Pleasant Valley Avenue as it turns into Grand Avenue. Turn left on Cambridge Way, then make a slight right on Jerome Avenue, a left on Magnolia Avenue, and a right back onto Jerome Avenue. Turn right on El Cerrito Avenue, which winds up through Piedmont Park and around Witter Field. Turn right onto Wildwood Avenue and continue on this road as it curves northwest and eventually turns into Jean Street. Outside the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses, turn right up the old stairs and follow them to Olive Avenue. Turn left on Olive Avenue, keeping the rose garden to your left, then left on Oakland Avenue. Turn right on Bayo Vista Avenue, left on Fairmount Avenue, right on Yosemite Avenue, and right on Piedmont Avenue, which will lead you past lots of charming shops and restaurants (including local favorite Fenton’s Creamery) on your return to your starting point.
Oakland-grown R&B group the Pointer Sisters leads off this heavy-hitting roster of female artists.